Spoke Talk: Get riding in the Tour de Steamboat

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Paul Matheny

In two weeks. you could be riding in Steamboat’s premier benefit cycling event — the Tour de Steamboat. Presented by Kent Eriksen Cycles and Wells Fargo Bank, the day offers three options: a 25-mile ride out to Sydney Peak Ranch, a 40-mile jaunt to Stagecoach and back and the epic 110-mile ride (known by locals as the Gore Gruel) that takes you over Rabbit Ears, Gore and Yellow Jacket passes.

I am frequently asked which pass is tougher, Rabbit Ears or Gore. Rabbit Ears certainly is a grind and comes early in the ride. Gore has a nice recovery spot in the middle, but by then, it’s hot and there is a climb at the west summit that always is a surprise after the long open flats when you’re expecting nothing but descending. Give it a ride, and you can decide.

All the rides end at Little Toots Park for a barbecue, New Belgium brews, entertainment and a drawing for a custom-built Kent Eriksen road frame.

The Tour de Steamboat always has been an all-volunteer fundraiser for the likes of Livestrong and the Sunshine Kids. This year’s event marks a great change of focus and will benefit four local nonprofits: Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, Partners of Routt County, Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide and Routt County Riders. These four organizations design and host the traditional pre-ride pasta dinner.

The benefit dinner and silent auction are sponsored by Impact 100, of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, and are being held at The Steamboat Grand pavilion from 5 to 8 p.m. July 19.

Lots of information including ride registration is available at www.tourdesteamboat.com. If you’re not a rider this year, you still will enjoy the benefit dinner and silent and live auctions for great merchandise, services and trips.

Visit our Wine Cellar and pick up a great bottle of wine and a 1 in 100 chance to win a trip to New York City, Disney World or to be a fighter pilot for a day with airfare included. The featured live auction items include a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, the classic New Belgium cruiser bike or a private over-flight of the valley from Mount Zirkel to Flat Tops wilderness areas.

Silent auction items include a full car detail, 10th Mountain Division hut nights, Caribbean trip, Broncos and Rockies tickets, Sandy Graves sculpture, limited edition photographs, guided fly-fishing, cycling kits, ski passes, season snow bike demo, Moab home, sports memorabilia, massages and gift baskets. Don’t forget to purchase the $10 drawing tickets for a custom Eriksen frame.

All tickets are available online and at Partners, Sustainability Council, Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare, Ski Haus and Kent Eriksen Cycles.

The rides attract a strong following of locals and riders from more than 20 states. Combined, the rides have room for 800+ riders, so register now and don’t let this one sell out on you. See you on the road July 20 and at The Steamboat Grand the night before.

Paul Matheny serves on the board of Routt County Riders. He can be reached at jpmatheny@gmail.com.

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